Sunday, December 31, 2023

361° Karios 2 Review: 6 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Beck

361° Karios 2 ($140)

Introduction

The Kairos 2 is an “inherent stability” trainer. By inherent we mean that instead of firmer foam posts or plastic support pieces it relies on its platform width, geometry and outsole rubber for its stability and support. It sits in the rapidly emerging more inherent stability category with shoes such as the ASICS Gel-Kayano 30  and Nimbus 26 and Puma ForeverRun Nitro compared at the end of the review.


It has 361’s excellent lively Engage TPE foam which we first experienced in the more neutral but still quite stable Centauri late in 2022 (RTR Review)

Friday, December 29, 2023

Merrell Trail Glove 7 GORE-TEX Review

Article by Mike Postaski

Merrell Trail Glove 7 GORE-TEX ($180)


Introduction

I have a pair of old Vapor Glove V3's that I long ago retired to interior housework duty - nice and stable "ground" feel when working around the house, painting, climbing ladders, etc ! But in fact, I find myself "un-retiring" them from time to time for some treadmill hiking when my lower legs are feeling fresh and I feel like adding in some foot strengthening.


I've never actually had a Trail Glove model - which is Merrell's equivalent "barefoot" shoe for the trails. Given that I like to experiment with different varieties of low-drop and natural running shoe styles, I was excited to try out Merrell's latest Trail Glove version.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

New Balance FuelCell Super Comp Elite v4 Multi Tester Review: Exuberant! 12 Comparisons

Article by Ryan Eiler, Renee Krusemark, Nils Scharff, Peter Stuart and Derek Li

New Balance FuelCell Super Comp Elite v4 ($250)


Introduction

The New Balance SC Elite v4 gets all new angular/faceted geometry and far more strikingly modern aesthetic, a new PEBA based Fuel Cell foam midsole, a thinner Energy Arc plate with curvature in multiple planes (giving the shoe a touch of snappy flex and adding to energy storage and return in the heel/midfoot as part of the energy arc system) and a new upper. We called prior SC the “friendliest” super shoe for its soft, more mellow ride and while it has not always been our favorite for racing v3 it was our contributors favorite long run shoe of 2023. Still friendly? Now more race ready? Let’s find out!

Testbericht: 361° Flame-ST 6 Vergleiche (German)

Article by Markus Zinkl, Maren Müller und Nils Scharff


361° Flame-ST (170 €)


Einleitung


Markus: Ich war bereits Anfang des Jahres angenehm vom 361° Centauri (RTR Test) überrascht, den der Hersteller als Daily Trainer platziert. Nun habe ich glücklicherweise auch die Möglichkeit bekommen den neuen Speed Schuhe, Flame ST, auszuprobieren.  Dieses neue Modell setzt auf die neueste Technologie und verspricht dabei eine gesteigerte Vielseitigkeit. Es soll nicht nur der ideale Schuh für intensives Geschwindigkeitstraining sein, sondern auch bei verschiedenen Workouts bis hin zu Wettkampftagen eine optimale Leistung bieten. Trotz seiner Leichtigkeit und Schnelligkeit soll der Flame ST nun zusätzlich an Komfort gewonnen haben, weicher und flexibler sein und somit ein federndes Lauferlebnis ermöglichen. Im Verlauf dieses Testberichts werden wir diese Herstellerangaben genauer unter die Lupe nehmen und prüfen, ob der 361° Flame ST diese Erwartungen erfüllen kann.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

La Sportiva Prodigio Review: Supercritical Foam, Ultra Focus- 7 Comparisons

Article by John Tribbia

La Sportiva Prodigio ($155)

Introduction

John: The trail running world is buzzing with anticipation for La Sportiva's newest release: the Prodigio. As a regular trail running shoe reviewer, I'm particularly intrigued by this ultra-distance shoe with its promise of a softer midsole, a novel concept for a brand typically known for its more rigid, firmer and responsive offerings.


According to La Sportiva, the Prodigio aims to cater to the ultra-distance runner seeking comfort and protection over long, grueling hours on the trail. This shift towards cushioning marks a significant departure from their previous models, which prioritized agility and stability on technical terrain.


Having tested several La Sportiva shoes and being a sponsored runner with them in the past, I've come to appreciate their exceptional durability and grip, even in the most demanding conditions. For my personal preference, I often found their trademark firmness a bit unforgiving, especially on longer runs. This is where the Prodigio's softer midsole sparked my excitement. The potential for a shoe that combines La Sportiva's renowned performance with enhanced comfort for ultra-distances is a truly compelling proposition.


Of course, only a thorough test can reveal whether the Prodigio lives up to its expectations.  I was eager to put the shoe through its paces, exploring its cushioning, responsiveness, and overall performance in the terrain it's designed for. Stay tuned for the full review here, where I'll delve into the Prodigio's strengths and weaknesses, and shed light on its suitability for the dedicated ultra-distance runner.


Pros:

  • Softer midsole: designed for comfort and protection over long distances

  • Lightweight: Weighs under 9.6 oz / US9 sample with a 34mm heel /28mm forefoot stack

  • New XFlow supercritical nitrogen infused midsole compound: more responsive, more cushioned, higher rebounding and more durable than previous La Sportiva offerings

  • Rocker profile: promotes a natural gait and smooth transitions
  • Highly breathable upper

  • Dual-compound FriXion outside ffers a balance of grip, durability, and versatility across different terrains

Cons:

  • Less stability and protection: Softer midsole compromises performance on technical terrain

  • Less robust upper? May be more susceptible to wear and tear than La Sportiva's traditionally rugged designs


Please find John's full run bio at the end of the article after Comparisons.


Stats

Samples: men’s 9.6 oz / 273 g US 9

Stack Height: men’s 34mm heel / 28mm forefoot ( 6mm drop) 

Available February 15, 2024. $155 USD.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Best of Run 2023: Apparel, Gear, Nutrition, Tech, Biggest Surprises, Overall Run Brand of the Year

Article by Road Trail Run Contributors


Our annual survey of the year’s best road and trail running shoes, apparel and gear is compiled via survey of our contributors. 26 total contributors participated in this year's survey. Here we present the apparel, gear, tech, surprises, and run brand of the year.


In this article the team was surveyed for their 2023 favorites in the following categories but first our contributors’race and run highlights to set the scene


Favorite Run Apparel

Favorite Nutrition, Hydration, Supplements 

Favorite Run Accessories-packs, lights, poles, recovery and injury aids, etc..

Favorite Run Tech

Biggest Surprises (good and bad)

Best Non Run Shoe Products 

Best Run Brand of 2023


Finally, to close, the RTR team’s races, routes, run discoveries, training methods,  challenges of any kind that were most significant in 2023 and their 2024 goals. 


Please read on for all the details on what was an amazing year of running and testing innovative gear of all sorts.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

361° Flame-RS Multi Tester Review

Article by Steven Gedwill and Bryan Lim

361° Flame-RS ($160)


Introduction

361, One degree Beyond.

Off the back of the success of the 361 Flame (marathon bronze medal winner at the Tokyo Olympics 2020), comes the updated 361 Flame-RS. This lightweight, race-ready running shoes is the newest model designed to chase down records and is fitted with a full-length carbon plate working in tandem with a new PU midsole technology.

Outdoor Vitals - Ventus Active Hoodie Review

Article by Markus Zinkl

Outdoor Vitals - Ventus Active Hoodie ($180)


Introduction

In the quest for the ideal blend of functionality and comfort during outdoor pursuits such as trail running and hiking, I recently took the Outdoor Vitals Ventus Hoodie for a test run. This versatile jacket caught my attention with promises of adaptability and performance. This review aims to dissect the features and performance of the Ventus Hoodie, offering insights into how it handles various conditions and activities. Join me as we delve into the details of a jacket that aspires to be a reliable companion for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a balance between form and function.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Brooks Glycerin 21 Multi Tester Review: 9 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark, Peter Stuart, and Jeff Beck

Brooks Glycerin 21 ($160)

Introduction


Renee: Brooks was generous enough to provide Peter and I samples of the Glycerin Stealthfit 21 during The Running Event. Glycerin is Brooks' most maximal high drop (10mm) trainer and comes in 4 different varieties: two different upper types (Stealth Fit knit and regular) with or without GTS (Go-to-Support) Guide Rails. I tested the non GTS Stealthfit and Peter the regular knit upper.  


The shoe  continues nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 cushioning adding  2mm more stack height and also gets a new RoadTack rubber outsole and an updated flat knit upper. 


Pros:

Extremely comfortable: Renee, Peter, Jeff

Fairly lightweight for the cushion: Renee, Peter, Jeff

Deluxe plush materials and a very well padded tongue: Peter, Jeff

Improved shape of midsole platform holds the foot better: Jeff

20g drop in weight from last year: Jeff


Cons:

Slow to turnover: Renee

Toe-box is a little claustrophobic: Peter 

Not the lightest shoe: Peter

No heel pull tab: Jeff

Topo Athletic MT-5 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dom Layfield and Dominique Winebaum

Topo MT-5 ($130)


Introduction


Dom L:  My first encounter with Topo Athletic goes all the way back to the MT-2, which I reviewed glowingly back in March 2016, and wore in several races.   Since then, the shoe has gone through several iterations (MT-3, MT-4), gaining a little stack height, weight and structure, and crystallizing its identity as a hybrid road-to-trail shoe.  


The latest revision mixes things up a bit, as stack height is raised slightly (now 28/23 mm, previously 25/22 mm) and heel-to-toe drop increases to 5 mm (from 3 mm).  Despite the extra height, weight is usefully down: my sample pair of US M10 weighed 270 g (9.5 oz) per shoe, down from 310 g (11 oz) for MT-4.  


The shoe is completely revamped, with new upper, new midsole, new outsole rubber.  In keeping with new emphasis on road-to-trail function, the new shoe is notably more rockered than before, providing a fast roll-off on road.  The outsole is also less aggressively lugged, making for a smoother road experience.  Sticker price is up very slightly from $125 to $130, which seems very reasonable, and less than inflation.




Dom L:  The new MT-5 is a highly capable, refined road-to-trail shoe.  Like all Topo Athletic shoes, it has a roomy toe box, but maintains a snug midfoot and heel.  Ride is on the firm side, which helps with stability.  More than anything, I was struck by how everything feels unobtrusively ‘just right’: the shoe felt nicely shaped to my foot, and performed great both on and off road. 


Dominique: Like Dom, I am a big fan of the Topo brand and though I have tested a series of models in the trail/hiking category, the MT-5 is my first introduction to the model.  Dom has described eloquently and in much detail the MT-5, along with comparing it extensively to its predecessor.  Unlike Dom, I am primarily a hiker and a walker versus purely a trail runner, and when I trail run, it is mostly on easy trails and fairly short distances.  I also fit into the category of “deluded” RTR contributors (as described by Dom),  as a 5 mm drop is a happy medium for me while I don’t frown upon a higher drop! 


Back in April I tested the MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review), and last September the first edition of the Traverse (RTR Review) a primarily low top sturdy hiker with  secondary trail running use.  In short, the Traverse has become my designated low top hiker in lieu of the MTN Racer, which I first tested in 2019 and last year.   


I have been “switching gears” given the many options from Topo footwear, and I continue to do so after receiving the MT-5.  As the occasional trail runner who has been wearing the MT-5 for over a month, walking road and trail, the MT-5 is indeed a great fit for me with its hybrid platform, colorful appeal, and comfortably lightweight.  



Pros:


Nice and light, with useful weight saving over previous generation. [Dom]

Rockered sole rolls well on the road. [Dom/Dominique]

Still capably grippy on trail.  [Dom]

Foot retention is excellent.  I had no problems, even on steep descents. [Dom]

Increased heel-to-toe drop of 5 mm probably makes shoe more mainstream. [Dom]

Entry-level trail runner with a hybrid platform/Dominique

Lightweight/Dominique

Attractive looking in my Emerald/Pink colorway sample/Dominique

Stain resistant – upper is still looking good after several weeks of wear/Dominique 

Comfortable and secure fit/Dominique

Good value/Dominique

5 mm drop/Dominique


Cons:

Increased heel-to-toe drop is not a win for everyone.  Personally, I’d be happier with 3 mm of previous MT-4 [Dom]

A bit on the firm side/Dominique

ASICS GT-2000 12 Review

 Article by Matt Kolat 

ASICS GT-2000 12 (€160  / $140 / £140)


Introduction


Asics GT-2000 needs no introduction but for those of us living under a rock for most of the past 15 years - it is Asics’ mid tier stability shoe. Typically if you are a fan of Asics and need stability you are one of two people, you are either a Kayano person or a GT 2000 person. 


What’s the difference you ask? Well to me Kayano is your choice if you prefer a more plush, softer ride geared almost exclusively for slower running. GT-2000 is a choice for those of us who still need a very similar level of stability as Kyano but in slimmer, snappier, firmer albeit less plush package. As you can probably tell, having run in a number of both Kayano and GTs - I am more of a GT kind of person. The key selling point for me when it came to choosing between the two above models was the snap which is delivered in GT and is lacking in Kayano while both provide a very similar level of stability. Does the shoe still hold up to its offering? What’s changed over the years? Let’s have a look together!


Pros

  • Snappy ride, for a stability shoe

  • Great stability

  • Long lasting outsole

  • Perfect grip on wet pavement (hello Scottish winter)

Cons

  • Lacks the fun of a modern super trainer


Stats

Sample Weight: men’s 11 UK / 12 US  11.3oz / 320g US9  9.5oz / 270g US

Stack Height: men’s  32.5mm heel / 24.5mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec) 

€160  / $140 / £140  Available now at our partner Sports Shoes HERE

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

XTEP 160X 5.0 Pro Multi Tester Review: 7 Comparisons

Article by Matt Crehan and Derek Li

XTEP 160X 5.0 Pro (RMB1299, $190-$270 )

Introduction

Matt: Being a massive fan of the 3.0 Pro I was excited to see the 5.0 Pro release, and also confused to what had happened to the 4.0 Pro. As  it turns out and a in a broadening of my cultural knowledge, 4 is seen as an unlikely number in China and tied to death in quite a few regions so it was skipped for number 5.0. 


The Pro 5.0 has similar technologies to previous generations of the line using the XTEP ACE cushioning system,  a multi-dimensional T700 heterogeneous carbon plate, a CPU outsole that XTEP promote as being able to withstand up to 2000 km. This is an impressive claim when compared to claims from other recent super shoe launches of the outsole lasting up to around 50 km.  Adidas Pro Evo 1 springs to mind. 


Though featuring a lot of the technology of the 3.0 Pro version 5.0 Pro is strikingly different in profile with a full midsole rather than decoupled heel and forefoot of the 3.0 Pro The stacks heights are considerably different with the 3.0 Pro having a max stack 40mm heel and 36mm forefoot whereas  the 5.0 Pro has a 33mm/30mm profile with a 3mm offset, creating what is quite a different feeling. 


Its silhouette \differs wildly from the 3.0 Pro and I would say the closest shoe on the market in terms of profile would be the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 1 & 2. Sadly I’ve not tested either of these shoes so I  can’t compare ride and the foot feel,  but the heel cut off bevel and aggressive rocker very much remind me of those shoes.  

Derek: I have plenty of experience with Xtep, and in particular, I’ve had extensive miles in both prior versions of the Xtep 160 Pro and 160 Pro 3.0. Needless to say, I had very high expectations of version 5.0 after their superb execution of version 3.0. The rest of the world has already started to take notice, as the Xtep 160 Pro 3.0 graced the podium at the World Championships marathon in Budapest earlier this summer, and took the overall men’s crown at the 2023 Sydney Marathon by a significant margin, a race that looks all but certain to be added to the Abbott World Marathon Majors league in 2025. 

All 3 versions of the Pro range have fairly high stack and fairly low drops. Clearly, it is meant to target runners with very strong and efficient calf action. What was different with Pro 3 was that it was sufficiently soft and bouncy that it became very forgiving for longer efforts. How will v5 compare? 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey

Article by Road Trail Run Contributors

Our annual survey of the year’s best road and trail running shoes, apparel and gear is compiled via survey of our contributors. 26 contributors participated in this year's survey for road and trail.  In this article you will find their trail shoes picks for 2023 in multiple categories including: cruiser trail shoes, technical trails focused, short and fast, long distance, door to trail, plated and shoe of the year.

Testbericht: Nike Vomero 17 - Das Beste was Nike im Angebot hat! (German)

Article by Markus Zinkl & Nils Scharff

Nike Vomero 17 (160€)

Einleitung


Nils: Mit Nike verbinde ich in Sachen meiner “Laufkarriere” einiges. Zum einen ist der Alphafly (1) nach wie vor mein absoluter Favorit für den Wettkampftag, der für mich nach wie vor seinesgleichen sucht. Zum anderen war der Pegasus 34 der Laufschuh, in dem meine Laufsucht begonnen hat. Vor allem der Pegasus stand lange Zeit als Synonym für den Allround-Laufschuh - den einen Schuh für alles. Doch leider ist er in den letzten Jahren immer mehr ins Hintertreffen geraten - die Konkurrenz wurde leichter, energetischer, bequemer etc. während der Pegasus stagnierte. So kam es, dass zuletzt eigentlich kein einziger Nike-Trainingsschuh wirklich empfehlenswert war und selbst die Trailschuhe mit dem Swoosh waren Ihren Straßenverwandten auf jedwedem Untergrund überlegen. Ich habe Hoffnung, dass der hier getestete Vomero 17 einen Wendepunkt in dieser Entwicklung darstellt. Die Designänderungen und vor allem der deutlich höhere Anteil am Performance-Material ZoomX in der Mittelsohle deuten jedenfalls darauf hin, dass der Fokus wieder deutlich mehr in Richtung des Laufens und weg von Lifestyle und Gym gerückt ist. Gemeinsam mit Markus versuche ich dieser Vermutung auf den Grund zu gehen und zu hinterfragen, ob der Vomero wirklich wieder eine Empfehlung wert ist.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Best Road Running Shoes of 2023: The Road Trail Run Team's Annual Survey

Article by RoadTrailRun Contributors

Best Road Running Shoes of 2023

Our annual survey of the year’s best road and trail running shoes, apparel and gear is compiled via survey of our contributors. 26 contributors participated in this year's survey. Not all contributors received every product and for each shoe tested differing quantities were provided by brands. Most shoes discussed here were review samples although a considerable number of personal purchases are included. 


Multiple categories were surveyed including: Favorite Daily Trainer, Favorite Tempo, Long Run, Easy Days, Short and Fast, Half and Full Marathon, Most Surprising, Overall Shoe of the Year, Brand of the Year. Pull up a chair, beer or coffee and dig in to what the team enjoyed in 2023.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Test des norda x Haven OO3 (French)

Article par Alexandra Zvezdin 

norda X Haven 003 ($325 USD)


Introduction


Norda lance la 003, une chaussure d’approche, en s’inspirant fortement de la 001 gardant la semelle Vibram G+ graphene, mais l’empeigne change entièrement. En effet, la chaussure n’a pas de lacets, mais utilise plutôt une tige en Bio-Dyneema élastique qui permet de maintenir un ajustement à travers le temps tout en permettant d’enfiler la chaussure rapidement. L’idée derrière la 003 est d’avoir une chaussure que l’on peut utiliser à différents niveaux d’effort allant de la randonnée, au ‘’scramble’’, jusqu’à la course. La collaboration avec Haven donne un design inspiré du brutalisme et finalement une chaussure que plusieurs trouveront assez stylée pour utilisation urbaine et décontractée également. 



Pours:

  • Empeigne très confortable 

  • Chaussure assez chaude pour l’hiver

  • Ajustement ferme malgré l'absence de lacets

  • Superbe interaction entre la semelle et l’empeigne qui permet une expérience de course agréable autant sur sentiers que sur route.

  • Bonne transition entre route et sentiers

  • Peut être utilisée pour des ascensions en terrain peu technique lorsque la précision pour les placements des pieds n’est pas un enjeu

  • Expérience de course vraiment agréable avec une chaussure légère

  • Stylée



Contre:

  • Semelle intermédiaire trop haute pour utilisation en ascension technique

  • Trop ouverte pour utilisation dans des éboulis

  • Trop volumineuse pour utilisation alpine (e.g., course-escalade)

  • Prix